Based on the book of the same name by S.E. Hinton, Francis F. Coppola’s The Outsiders, originally released in 1983, is a movie that desperately attempts to capture the ideas and morals of the original novel but falls conspicuously flat in movie magic.
Featuring C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, Ralph Macchio, and Diane Lane, this coming-of-age drama touches on the starkly contrasting ideas of violence and hope, dark and light, poor and rich. The soon-to-be-famous actors and actresses starring in this film lent it potential, but it was quickly squandered with a weak script, courtesy of Kathleen Rowell, and egregious directing.
Ultimately, a combination of horrible camerawork, awful acting, and mistimed music, create The Outsiders, a movie that even the inspirational message cannot improve.
Ponyboy Curtis (Howell), the movie’s protagonist, is a fourteen-year-old orphan who lives with his older brothers Darry (Swayze) and Sodapop (Lowe) in the poorer north side of town, the “wrong” side. Known as the “greasers” for their greased hair, they and their gang, which consists of Dally Winston (Dillon), Johnny Cade (Macchio), Two-Bit Mathews (Estevez), and Steve Randle (Cruise), have a bitter rivalry with the Socs (short for ‘Socialites’), the rich kids on the south side.
For as long as anyone can remember, these two groups have been at each other’s throats, always jumping and getting jumped by the other, but there were always limits, an unspoken line never to be crossed – until the day that the life of one is weighed as more than the life of another, and Johnny murders a Soc to save Ponyboy’s life.
The Outsiders is the kind of movie that has the potential to either become an all-time classic or an all-time flop and after one watches it for the first time, it is obvious that this film strongly inclines to the latter. Some things that immediately stand out to the viewer are the lack of proper filming technique and a distinct dearth in emotional acting, but the most pressing issue with this movie is the background music. Not only do the pieces performed not fit the mood of the shots at all, but they also appear at the most inopportune moments, blocking out what the actual characters are saying at the same time, which can become rather tedious to the audience.
All in all, The Outsiders is a film which had promise, but did not take advantage of it to leap to great heights. Though some fans may enjoy the film for its accurate events compared to the novel, even the most dedicated of followers may not be able to sit through this train wreck of a film, with atrocious acting and misplaced music. Out of five stars, this movie deserves a two, because while it did maintain the novel’s message and plot, it failed in all the aspects that make a movie a classic.